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posed on the churches, either by the midst of so much superfluity, he sophistry of great men, or the decis. could find clear and full definitions ions of ecclesiastical courts. Nor of the principal points in controveris truth likely to lie long concealed. sy. We do not say that he can not Free minds are ever vigorously at ascertain from it what Wesleyan work to discover it; eager, yet pa- perfectionism, the main subject of tient of labor and thorough investi. the book, is; but he can not find it gation.
in any single definition, nor in any We present not this contrast to single series of propositions. He is prejudice the minds of our readers obliged to resort to a collation and against the work before us, and its comparison of a multitude of imexcellent author. The love of truth perfect statements—some positive, is sufficiently strong and disinterest- some negative-from which to infer, ed in some minds, to carry them rather than out of which to construct, to greater purity in faith and profes- a complete definition of the doctrine. sion than the creed of their sect. According to Dr. Peck, if we unBut how violent and subduing is the derstand him, a man is a perfect temptation to conformity and silent Christian if he loves God with all acquiescence, in a church where his heart, mind, soul and strength, su bscription to a minute confession and his neighbor as himself—and is of faith is required and rigidly en- free from all sinful passions, desires forced! where the leading minds and appetites. are never refreshed with the incense The Wesleyan theory of perfecof veneration and gratitude, except tion, he tells us,“ simply asserts the for defending the received creed ! attainableness, in the present life, of
Dr. Peck undertakes in this vol- a state of holiness truly denominaume to describe and defend Wes. ted Christian perfection. This Chrisleyan perfectionism, a doctrine of tian perfection implies loving God his sect. He tells us what he thinks with all the heart, mind, soul and it is; represents it to be a doctrine strength.” of the Bible ; and states and refutes In answer to the question, what is to the best of his ability, the adverse Christian perfection? Wesley says, opinions of Christendom. The work “ The loving God with all our heart, is written in a clear and vigorous soul, mind and strength. This imstyle, with more candor than is com- plies that no wrong temper, none mon in controversial books, and with contrary to love, remains in the soul ; admirable comity. The plan, on and that all the thoughts, words and the other hand, is exceedingly faulty. actions are governed by pure love." Instead of making the work strictly Dr. Clarke furnishes another defi. either historical, or polemical, or nition to the same effect: " The practical, the author has brought whole design of God was to restore forth a mongrel production, not man to his image, and raise him worthless, but of little worth, either from the ruins of his fall; in a word as a history of perfectionism, a de. to make him perfect; to blot out all fence of the Wesleyan theory, or a his sins, purify his soul, and fill him "help" in the divine life. The oth- with holiness ; so at no unholy er principal faults of the work, are temper, evil desire, or impure affecprolixity and indefiniteness. The tion or passion, shall either lodge or amount of matter introduced into have any being within him ; this the volume without any advance of and this only is true religion, or thought, the omission of which would Christian perfection." be a decided improvement, is more Our readers will probably consid. than a moiety of the whole. This er this to be a definition of absolute the reader might pardon, if in the moral purity-a sinless character. Vol. I.
Not so Dr. Peck. The philosophy him to do his whole duty. Bishop of Wesley puts upon this language Hedding asserts, “that the sinful. a much more limited sense than ness of our nature, or original sin, naturally belongs to it. The per- may remain in the new-born soul fection defined is Christian perfec. independent of choice, and even tion, sometimes called evangelical to against choice.” Fletcher teaches, distinguish it from legal perfection, that we can not help breaking the something inferior to the perfection Adamic law in numberless instances, which even a Mohammedan or a even after our full conversion." deist may have in his mind's eye- Nor at length when a Christian has something imperfect when compar. attained to a state of evangelical ed with the perfect law of God! perfection, has he power to be and The perfect Christian, they say, to do all that the perfect law enjoins loves his Maker with all his power, upon us.
The restoration to man, and his neighbor as himself; yet by this gradual process, of a mealess than is required of him by the sure of his primitive power of right perfect or Adamic law! He is free moral action, is held to be a work from all sinful passions, desires, and of grace. All the power of right appetites, yet he is still in need of action possible to man, since the daily forgiveness for his unavoida- fall, is derived from Christ. ble offenses ! pp. 292–3.
ability,” says Dr. Peck, “to avail To understand distinctly what this ourselves of these provisions (for notion of “evangelical perfection” human salvation) is a gracious abilis, and what right it has to be con- ity.” sidered a doctrine of the Bible, it is This ability derived from Christ necessary to take a view of the lead- is only sufficient to enable man to ing tenets of the Wesleyan theology, comply with what the Wesleyans connected, some more and some call the law of love, the evangelical less immediately, with this feature law, not with the more extensive of their system.
and rigid demands of the perfect The starting point of Wesleyan- law. This brings us to the main ism, is the natural inability of man peculiarity of their scheme—the to keep the Divine law. Human basis of their doctrine of perfecnature lost by the fall the capacities tion, which, therefore, needs to be of a free moral agent. This is the well understood—namely, the subuniform representation of the wri. stitution in the place of the perfect ters of this school. They scout the law of another rule of moral obligadistinction between natural and mor- tion—a rule corresponding exactly al ability and inability, and interpret in its demands with the present cathose texts of Scripture which affirm pacities of man. The grace of the the inability of man to serve God Gospel, as they teach, consists in without Divine aid, to mean that he part in the abrogation of the Adis destitute of natural power to obey amic law, and in reducing the claims the laws of his Creator.
of God on man's obedience to the In this condition of impotence the measure of his fallen powers. “The Gospel finds man, and imparts to standard of character,” says Dr. him a measure of that ability to do Peck, “set up in the Gospel must right which was annihilated by the be such as is practicable by man, fall. Full ability to obey God is fallen as he is. Coming up to this not imparted in advance; but barely standard is what we call Christian enough to enable man to begin to perfection.” p. 294. “ Each alike seek after his entire recovery from (the original law of perfect purity sin. Nor when he is converted and the law of love) requires the fully to Christ, has he power given exercise of all the capabilities of
the subjects.” p. 292. He adds in quires of man. He has substitusubstance, that allowing the same ted (not sincerity but) love in the formulary, “Thou shalt love the
room of angelic perfection." His Lord thy God with all thy heart," theory seems to be this : •Man can “to be used both by the angelic law not possibly be saved, even by and the law of love, the whole heart Christ, if, as a condition of salva. implies less in the latter case than tion, he must love God and serve in the former.'
him, according to the perfect law. Dr. Peck shrinks from a fair in. He can not become a Christian, if terpretation of the language of Wes. to be so implies loving God as he ley, and the other standard writers, is bound by that law to love him. on this point; and he takes Dr. He has not power to love to that Pond, a very cautious and discrimi- degree; nor to walk according to nating writer, severely to task for that standard. And moreover, a saying, that Wesley "held to the perfect God can not accept, pardon repeal of the Adamic law, and and glorify a sinful being, or one thought it very consistent with per- that falls short of entire obedience fection that persons should fall into to his law. He can not, therefore, great errors and faults.” We will save us, unless he repeals his law, enable our readers to judge between so far as we can not even by the aid them. Wesley says: “No man is of Divine grace obey it; and conable to perform the service which sents to accept of a less degree of the Adamic law requires." "And love, and of a fitful conformity to the
a no man is obliged to perform it; for original law, as perfect obedience. Christ is the end of the Adamic as Accordingly he has made this well as of the Mosaic law. By his change. Thus he has set up a new death he haih put an end to both; standard of holiness, in order that he hath abolished both the one and man may be able to comply with the the other, with regard to man; and conditions of salvation. That this the obligation to observe either the was Wesley's philosophy, falsely so one or the other is vanished away. called, must be perfectly plain to Nor is any man living bound to ob- every impartial reader of the work serve the Adamic more than the before us. Perfection he held to be Mosaic law. (I mean it is not the an indispensable condition of salvacondition either of present or future tion. salvation.)” The justice of Dr. The Wesleyan writers themselves Pond's representation turns on the appear not unconscious of a diffi. meaning of Wesley in the words in culty attending this doctrine. Bishthe parenthesis. Did he simply op Hedding asks, “what would be mean, that perfect obedience to the the fate of a soul born of the Spirit, law is not now the condition of sal. but not fully sanctified, called to die vation? Then he does not differ in that state ?” His answer, in ef. from his Calvinistic brethren. They fect, is, that he is not fit for heaven, hold that man is no longer under but Christ would fit him. Wesley law in this sense, but under grace. himself answers the question wheth. The sins of all penitent believers er a man must be perfect in his are freely forgiven. This however sense, or be lost, by saying that he was not Wesley's meaning. For he must be either perfect or pressing says, in the same connection, that after perfection. This “pressing “the whole law under which we now after,” we suppose, he considered are is fulfilled by love, [a love infe- necessary to secure his perfect sancrior to that demanded by the perfect tification by the Spirit, in the molaw.] Faith working or animated ment of death. In this way, the by love, is all that God now re. condition of salvation, or perfect
obedience to the law of love, might namely, that there are four distinct be fulfilled. But salvation under a kinds of sin-the first two kinds real stricter law, such as the Adamic, sins, the other two sins in "a cer. he thought, would be impossible, tain sense,” not in the Scripture because obedience would be imprac- sense ; the first two opposed to ticable; and unless man becomes Christian perfection, the other two perfect according to the standard perfectly consistent with it. The of rectitude, he can not be saved. first is original sin, or the corrupTherefore, though Wesley could tion of human nature; the second, say with propriety, “I mean it (the actual sin, or voluntary transgreslaw) is not the condition either of pre. sions ; the third, unavoidable shortsent or future salvation,” he means comings in keeping the Adamic more. Hence he denies disobedi. law; the fourth, such transgressions ence to any law but the law of as are due to unavoidable errors of Christ, to be sin. “Such transgres. judgment. “The Wesleyan Methsions,” he says, p. 63, “ you may odists,” says Dr. Peck, p. 251, “ do call sins, if you please : I do not, not hold a perfection which erfor the reasons above mentioned.” cludes the infirmities of human na. Why not acknowledge them to be ture, (the third and fourth kinds of sins, since he allows them to be of sin,) and which implies perfect transgressions of the perfect law, if obedience to the Adamic law ; but he did not also hold that that law the perfection they hold excludes was abrogated by Christ as a rule the turpitude of human nature (oriof moral obligation, as well as a ginal sin) and implies loving God condition of salvation ?
with all the heart," that is, it exThe very remarkable conceit that cludes all actual sin or voluntary God by the constitution of things transgressions. disables all the descendants of Adam It is only in the light of this sinfrom obeying his law, and then in a gular classification of sins, that the measure repairs the injury by restor- doctrine of Wesleyan perfection ing to them the power of imperfect can be intelligently comprehended. obedience, is made more remarkable still by the notions of the sect
“ The difference," says Bishop Hed. respecting the transgressions of the ding; between a justified soul who is
not fully sanctified, and one fully sanctiperfect Christian. They will not fired, I understand to be this :confess them to be sins in the
“ The first (if he does not backslide) is sense of the term. They are, says kept from voluntarily committing known
which is what is commonly meant Wesley, “no way contrary to love; in the New Testament by committing sin. nor, therefore, in the Scripture But he yet finds in himself the remains
p. 65. Still, he else. of inbred corruption, or original sin ; such where insists that these acts will not as pride, anger, envy, a feeling of hatred
to an enemy, a rejoicing at a calamity bear the rigor of Divine justice ; and which has fallen upon an evemy, &c. that they are blotted out by the “ Now, in all this the regenerate soul atonement. Many of them, indeed, does not act voluntarily, his choice is are what other Christian sects, com
against all these evils ; God has given
bim a new heart, which bates all ihese paring them with the perfect law, evils, and resists, and overcomes them, consider “great faults ;" but why as soon as the mind perceives them. The the Wesleyans should deny them to regenerate soul wishes these evils were be sins-insist that they are una
not in his heart, yet he has in himself
no power to destroy them. Though the voidable--and yet call in the atone- Christian does not feel guilty for this dement to cancel them, is for them to pravity as he would do if he had volunexplain.
tarily broken the law of God, yet he is This confusion of ideas is owing
often grieved and afflicted, and reproved
at a sight of this sinfulness of his nature. to an hypothesis peculiar to the sect, Though the soul in this state enjoys
a degree of religion, yet it is conscious it errors, are not sins in the Scripture is not what it ought to be, nor what it must be to be fit for heaven.
sense, since he is not bound to obey “ It seems that the sinfulness of our
the Adamic law, but only the milder nature, or original sin, may remain in the law of Christ, which is perfectly new-born soul independent of choice, and fulfilled by loving God to the extent even against choice. “ The second, or the person fully sanc.
of his present power. He is pertified, is cleansed from all these inward fectly holy in the light of a law involuntary sins.
adapted by Divine grace to his en“He may be tempted by Satan, by feebled capacities; but in the light men, and by his own bodily appetites, to commit sin, but his heart' is free from
of the perfect law originally given these inward fires, which before his full to man, he is imperfect and sinful. sanctification were ready to fall in with Our aim thus far has been to temptation, and lead him into transgres. show from the volume before us, sion. He may be tempted to be proud; what Wesleyan perfectionism is. to love the world, to be revengeful or angry, to hate an enemy, to wish him A lucid description of the thing will evil, or to rejoice at his calamity, but he be to many minds, a sufficient refu. feels none of these passions in his heart; tation of its claim to be a doctrine the Holy Ghost has cleansed him from all these pollutions of bis nature. Thus
of the Bible. There seems to us it is that, being emptied of sin, the per
to be little need of framing an arfect Christian is filled with the love of
gument against it. What hypotheGod, even with that perfect love which casteth out fear.” pp. 79, 80.
sis in the whole system, of which
this doctrine is a constituent part, From this passage the reader will has the least support from the word see, that every Christian is perfect of God ? Not, that man lost by in the evangelical, or rather Wes. the fall the capacities of a free leyan sense, except in one respect moral agent. Not, that all the abil. -one kind of sin, inconsistent with ity man has to do his duty is a perfection, still clings to him, name- gracious ability. Not, that man is ly, original sin, a corrupt nature. unable, even by the aid of Divine From actual or voluntary sin, he is grace, to obey the perfect law. as free as an angel. And his short- Not, that Christ has abrogated the comings, although they may be perfect law, and introduced a laxer greater, and his sins of ignorance rule of moral obligation. Not, that more numerous, than are predica- man must be perfectly holy before ble of a perfect Christian, are of his soul leaves the body, as a conthe same nature with his-mere in- dition of salvation. Not, that any firmities—not sins in the Scrip- act of omission or of commission, ture sense.' He loves and serves absolutely unavoidable, may be a God according to his present light transgression of a divine law, so and strength. He is not yet per- that it can not bear the rigor of fect, because original sin, against Divine justice, and needs an atone- . his choice, is still rankling in his ment. Not, that a perfect Chrisbosom. When this depravity, which tian may transgress the Divine law he has no power to destroy, shall by mistake, and do so without sin. be entirely subdued by Divine grace, Not, that a Christian can not comhis love to Christ will reign without mit a voluntary sin, without ceasing a rival in his heart; all his actions to be a Christian, falling from grace, will be dictated by that love ; and and forfeiting his salvation. Not, he will be perfect, except that his that sin may remain in a Chrislove can never in this world equal tian, independent of his choice and the demands of the perfect law, against choice. None of these things nor can he ever be entirely free are asserted in the Bible. On the from sins of ignorance-of mistake. other hand, much may be alledged But then these short-comings and against them, both from the word